Secure continuity of trade post-Brexit

Secure continuity of trade post-Brexit

Before and after: trade continuity must prevail if business is to thrive


UK businesses trade worldwide through 40 agreements with 70 countries. But we risk losing these arrangements if post-Brexit continuity is not secured. If preferential agreements aren’t rolled over, UK companies become uncompetitive overnight, lose profits and risk being wiped out entirely.


The change we're calling for


It’s vital that companies are able to continue to trade on pre-agreed terms, avoiding tariffs and other market access barriers. We’re urgently calling on the government to secure continuity in any event. This must happen now if business is to escape disruption.

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    Secure continuity with the largest of the EU’s trade partners by Brexit day as a priority

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    If some trade agreements fall away, urgently seek to roll them over to reduce the time firms are trading under unfavourable WTO terms

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    In a deal scenario, ensure all 40 EU trade agreements are converted into UK bilateral deals by the end of transition


Why it's needed


In a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario, many of our trade agreements are at risk of falling away. Even if the UK secures a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, the EU’s trade agreements will still need to be rolled over in time for the end of the transition period.

For whichever agreements fall away, the UK would be trading on WTO terms. Vehicles sold to Mexico would face a 15-20% tariff - probably wiping out some car manufacturers’ sales. Whisky would face a 20% tariff in South Korea, equating to a huge £14m. The examples of risks to existing markets go on and on.

Securing continuity protects British businesses currently depending on benefits of international trade. It ensures they remain competitive and can continue serving their markets.

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"It is absolutely crucial for the competitiveness of UK firms that the government secures continuity of trade with the EU’s third country trade partners. Despite the hard work of Ministers and officials, it is clear that some agreements will not be in place for Brexit day. Business needs clarity and certainty about its future trading arrangements."

Ben Digby, Director of International Trade & Investment, CBI

The impact of trade

Agreements support business growth

Trade agreements significantly improve market access across the globe for UK firms, which is why maintaining them is so important for prosperity. Without them, there is evidence that business would be subject to tariffs with devastating effects.

  • Whisky exports to South Korea are worth £71m a year. A 20% tariff would mean £14m of tariffs and whisky producers losing a lot of trade.

  • In Mexico, vehicles would face tariffs of 15-20% which could wipe out premium car brands in that market.

  • In the first year of the EU-Canada agreement (CETA) being in force, sales of UK goods to Canada increased by 14%.

Our progress and wins


The CBI campaigns tirelessly on behalf of our members so that business creates prosperity for all. Learn more about the work we do and the impact we are making on this issue.

Support the change

Take action today: highlight the importance of continuity of trade to your business

  1. 1.

    Highlight the costs to your business of specific trade agreements falling away to the CBI, and publicly where appropriate.

  2. 2.

    Support the CBI’s narrative in conversations with government and MPs that a no deal Brexit would be disastrous for trade.

  3. 3.

    Analyse your supply chain and understand where your business might be exposed to new tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

4. Join the CBI

Our members are our mandate, and the reason we're the most influential business organisation in the UK. Join the voice of business, and help us campaign for trade continuity that brings security, growth and prosperity for all.

Join the CBI